In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, and a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.(1)
In the Hebrew Bible’s first creation-story, the universe is in an elemental, formless state. Chaos.
Thus, it is no surprise that what follows is the increasing establishment of order and differentiation – light and darkness, sky and land and sea, sun and moon, living creatures that fly and swim and walk the earth, and humankind – all of which God declared as “good.”(2)
Whether or not one ascribes to biblical mythology(3) as a lens through which to behold reality, I submit that, notwithstanding the created order, chaos was not destroyed. Chaos remains, metaphorically and literally under the surface of all that we can see.
Throughout human history, we have sought to erect structures to keep chaos at bay. From the mundane of our individual habits and practices, daily routines and schedules, household finances and maintenance, and, most importantly, our intimate and wider circles of relationships to the larger and more elaborate scope of societal structures of governance and communal wellbeing, cultural norms, and ethical mores.
Yet, again, I say, chaos remains; becoming bruisingly, painfully evident whenever something (or someone) crashes through the structures we have established. For example, when our habits and practices, routines and schedules are disrupted by illness or death, when our household finances and maintenance are disordered by the loss of employment, when our relationships are disturbed by conflict. And, in the larger scope, when our societal structures, cultural norms, and ethical mores are challenged by those who, proverbially, follow a different drummer.(4)
Mr. Trump, in my view, is someone who has crashed through the structures of governance, opening a fissure that allows us to behold anew the roiling waters of chaos.
This chaos of ever-present, elemental aspects of creation has manifold shapes and forms.
Here, speaking only of America, I name one: Racism.
(1) Genesis 1.1-2
(2) Genesis 1.3-31
(3) By “mythology,” I mean that I interpret the Genesis creation-story to be no historical account, but rather a poetic narrative that seeks to express a truth: Before there was anything, there was nothing, and, from nothing, a Power, which, Who I call God, brought forth all that is.
(4) Here, I think of the famous words of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), the American essayist, poet, and philosopher: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. (I note that Thoreau, at least, in part, was offering a critique to a 19th century notion, popular in some circles, that America, considered a young and backward nation in comparison to Europe, ought to aspire to be as the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, both held to represent a golden age of civilization.) In this business of “hear(ing) a different drummer,” it might be ventured that Mr. Trump, in his iconoclastic approach to governance, has embarked on a thoroughly “Thoreau-esque” venture. However, I neither perceive nor believe that Thoreau, given his ecological spirit in regard to the natural world and his abolitionist heart concerning institutional slavery, would serve or could serve as a role-model for Mr. Trump.